Two very different consoles (Photo: Metro).
Now that the next two are out, GameCentral tries to compare them and finds it surprisingly difficult to find an agreement.
They may not yet be available in stores, but the Xbox X/S and PlayStation 5 series can already be found in all major markets around the world and the next generation is finally here. Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will remain relevant for at least a few more years, but the slow transition from the old to the new consoles begins now. Many stakeholders will be interested in getting at least one copy this year, but choosing between them is a very difficult decision.
As usual, all discussions about the fact that one console is more powerful than another have come to nothing. And although there are few direct comparisons, at least one great multi-format game – Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – seems to work better on PlayStation 5, even though the Xbox X series is more powerful on paper. But in practice this never means much, because time, money and marketing pressure have their own impact on the development of the game.
It is possible that games from the Xbox X series will have a small advantage in the future, or perhaps the faster PlayStation 5 SSD will have the same small difference, but it already seems likely that the two in terms of graphical performance – which, for better or worse, is the first thing most people pay attention to when buying a new console – are so similar that it is not an important factor to take into account when making a decision.
Games are another obvious reason to buy a new console, and in that respect the PlayStation 5 is so far ahead of the Xbox X/S series that it cannot be compared to the Xbox X/S series. The most popular launch name on Xbox is Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, a multi-format version of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, while PlayStation 5 offers the best launch programme on Sony consoles, including exclusive parties such as Demon’s Souls and Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
The only Xbox party game we’ve seen so far is Halo Infinite, whose last public show was so bad that it was eventually postponed until next year. If you want to buy a console exclusively for the launch and promise some equally tempting games next year, PlayStation 5 is the only choice. But for most people, it’s not that simple.
The PlayStation 5 is a fantastic console and the DualSense controller is an unexpected highlight of the new generation. But his first elite games cost 70 pounds, and it’s not easy to ignore that. Especially when the most attractive aspect of the Xbox X/S series is a Game Pass subscription where all games are free.
There are many differences between the way Microsoft and Sony see themselves and the game industry, but Game Pass is at the heart of all this. Microsoft now believes that consoles are just a part of a larger Xbox ecosystem that includes PCs and, increasingly, data streams from other devices. Microsoft does not intend to make money or promote its games by selling individual games, and the package, a set of services that includes not only an attempt to become Netflix of gaming, but also backward compatibility, which includes more than two decades of consoles.
However, Sony, which has just achieved success with PlayStation 4, wants to keep it what it has always been by encouraging people to buy the new console and by offering them a critically acclaimed game that is only available on PlayStation. For the time being this is certainly the most interesting offer, but at the same time it already seems outdated and refuses to acknowledge the obvious advantages of Microsoft’s approach – Sony hesitates to offer backward compatibility only with PlayStation 4 and shows no sign that the PlayStation is becoming a true equivalent of the Game Pass.
Of course, the perfect console will be the best of both worlds: first-class party support with Game Pass and all the accessories. Microsoft also seems to agree, given the amount of money they have spent to increase their stability for top developers (they spent $7.5 billion on Bethesda alone), but it’s not at all clear why they didn’t do this at least five years ago, so they could launch a new generation of truly new games.
Their inactivity during the Xbox One generation probably has some boring commercial explanations (probably that Phil Spencer only got a budget relatively recently), but it has wasted time that will be difficult to catch up with. But of course this is possible with the money Microsoft has access to – an advantage Sony could never hope for.
Although the PlayStation 5 should attract all the attention at the beginning of this generation, it is not surprising that in a few years the X/S series of Xbox will overtake the emergence of their first party games and the expansion of the Game Pass.
And it’s very good for the players. Not only will the two companies desperately try to outperform each other – to impress you as a potential customer – but if everything stays the same, you have the choice between two totally different formats, which are more than a few different exclusive names.
There is a real philosophical difference between the Xbox X series and the PlayStation 5, and although the two finally meet at the end of the generation, it is still a much more exciting starting point than the previous generation – where Sony won with a crushing victory without missing the overt goal that Microsoft left them behind.
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Even if you lose all that PR paper, it’s still a fact: Sony’s first party games are really good, and the Xbox X-series is really cheap. Whatever your approach, you will not be disappointed by the consoles when they hit the market, and that says a lot when you consider that the previous generation has spent most of the past two years trying to be interesting.
And if things look so rosy at the beginning of this generation, that gives hope that the future of the new consoles will be rosier than all the others that have gone before.
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